Cablegate: Drc Prime Minister Gizenga Resigns
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0802 2691633
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 251633Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8493
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
UNCLAS KINSHASA 000802
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL CG
SUBJECT: DRC PRIME MINISTER GIZENGA RESIGNS
REF: 07 Kinshasa 1307
1. (U) Prime Minister Antoine Gizenga delivered his resignation
letter to President Joseph Kabila today, September 25. In a
subsequent address on national television, Gizenga cited health
reasons as the driving force behind his resignation, which Kabila
has yet to formally accept. Although it was widely rumored that
Kabila wanted to replace Gizenga, it is not unlikely that the reason
for his departure is, in fact, ill health.
2. (U) Gizenga, 83, is Chairman of PALU ("PARTI LUMBUMBISTE UNIFIE"
in French), which he helped found in 1965. Gizenga served as Deputy
Prime Minister under Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba during the first
independent Congo government in 1960, then fled into exile after
President Mobutu seized power in 1965. He returned to Zaire in 1991
after Mobutu pledged political space for opposition parties,
remaining active as a member of the opposition and leader of PALU.
3. (U) Kabila tapped Gizenga as Prime Minister in December 2006 in
accordance with the power sharing agreement between PALU and the
majority coalition, the AMP ("ALLIANCE POUR LA MAJORITE
PRESIDENTIELLE"). The AMP also includes Kabila's party, the PPRD
("PARTI DU PEUPLE POUR LA RECONSTRUCTION ET LA DEMOCRATIE") and
former Mobutu followers, the UDEMO ("UNION DES DEMOCRATES
MOBUTUISTES"). The National Assembly approved Gizenga as Prime
Minister in February 2007.
4. (SBU) Gizenga's tenure as PM was relatively uneventful, although
notable for its lack of energy and initiative in setting policy.
Since early 2008, the opposition has called for Gizenga's
resignation, citing his advanced age and the inability of his
government to implement programs. Real power lay with the
ministries, and, ultimately, with the Presidency. Gizenga did
reduce the number of government ministries from 40 to 33 in a
November 2007 cabinet reshuffle (reftel). A hallmark of Gizenga's
tenure has been a lack of coordination between ministries. A recent
agreement with China for billions of dollars in mining concessions
was not coordinated, with separate, opaque accords signed between
the Chinese and only some of the concerned ministries. Other
interested ministries were not involved. As a result, there is
confusion as to whether the monies lent the DRC are concessionary
and thus impact on the country's external debt.
5. (SBU) Gizenga's resignation is hardly a surprise. Attention is
now focused on who Kabila will select to replace him and whether a
new GDRC will result in a more active government program. In
considering a new PM, Kabila must balance the weight of PALU in the
coalition and the important east-west dynamic within the government.
With declining support in the east, he may consider a PALU
candidate from the West to shore up support from the PALU party base
in Bandundu province.
6. (SBU) Two oft-mentioned candidates to succeed Gizenga include
PALU second-in-command and Minister for Urban Affairs Sylvain Ngabu,
and Gizenga advisor Godefroid Mayobo. Ngabu is from Ituri in the
east and thus could create a problem with regional balancing; Mayobo
is from a rival tribe of Gizenga's in Bandundu; it is unclear how
enthusiastically Gizenga would support Mayobo. A third candidate
who may get the nod is Budget Minister Adolphe Muzitu, a competent
technocrat and PALU member from Bandundu. In the end, however,
Kabila may choose someone from within his own party (PPRD) ranks.